Tuesday, 24 January 2012


One of the worst books I have ever read was when we were doing are GCSE exam, it was a book called 'Earthly Powers'. The opening line in this book is the only thing I can remember about it, as it was question on a pub quiz we did a few weeks ago, the opening line in the book is something like "It was the afternoon of my eighty-first birthday, and I was in bed with my catamite when Ali announced that the archbishop had come to see me." 

That is probably the closest you are going to get on this blog site with wired lines in it like that, but I was honestly considering starting this blog with the opening line: It was on the day Luton beat Hinkley 3-0, that my farther and I  were driving back from visiting gravestones in Barrow on Humber, with two students one from Holland the other dressed in a pink bunny rabbit that we were discussing the upcoming London Mayoralty, but little did I know that the police would be round the following day to discuss terrorism with us.

But I have decided to start this post differently - I am going to start with an apology. One of the things that I was very aware of when I was the Senior Cabinet member for Adult Social Care, Public Health and Community Well being last year was just how too easy it is to spend all your life fire fighting, doing casework, counselling, ward work and running the largest non financially controlled directorate and family and friends become a second priority. Looking back now there is no doubt I certainly fell into this trap and to any friend or family member that in any way felt left out or rejected by me; can I say I didn't mean it and I am sorry. 

When losing my seat I made a promise to myself, that I was going to make a real effort to change that work life balance thing. I was thinking about this promise that I had made to myself on Saturday as I started the huge task of clearing my council office stuff up (16 pink sacks of paper!!! and about half a sack of confidential stuff that has now been burnt.) My Dad walked into my room and asked if I would accompany him up to Barrow-on-Humber on Monday. Since his retirement Dad is spending a considerable amount of time studying are family tree. I agreed and yesterday we went up. It was bloody cold, but it was nice to walk round the village where my Gran lived, and farther grew up. I have some really fond memories as a child of when we used to go and visit her. Dad showed me where he went to school (and was head boy... a terrible embarrassment for a Comprehensive, radical Liberal like me who thinks that kind of thing is terrible and elitist and refused to be a prefect when asked to at my own school) where he grew up in the largest house in the village of about 1,000 houses, but the majority of time we spent looking at grave stones, so Dad could answer some questions about my Great, Great, Great Uncle. 

The thing that I did ponder as Dad was taking notes was no-one really moved in those days, if you were born in a village you pretty much stayed there and the village consisted of maybe 2 or 3 "big families" maximum and literally 100s of servants. Climbing the social ladder just didn't happen. If your farther was a blacksmith you were a black smith, if your farther was the coal man you would become a coal man and If your farther was bankers then you to would end up screwing the economy too. 

For me that would have meant me becoming an Internationally recognised Scientist studying if there is life on Mars and Environmental change in fact if I had followed in my farther's foot steps I would be Dean of Science at the largest Student University in the country - which for anyone that went to school with me would know, would have been a total disaster, as someone who got a double E for Science, which shows why the hereditary principal in the House of Lords is such a stupid idea - but we will leave that for another post. But there can be no doubt that in Barrow and most places in England that was certainly the case,  I was pretty well stunned at how many "Potts" were there. 

So that was yesterday we came back, picking up 2 Uni hitch hikers (one dressed in a pink bunny rabbit uniform the other a foreign student both studying medicine at St. Andrews University) doing a charity sponsored thing trying to hitch hike there way to Germany. We got back home just in time for me to listen to Luton beat Hinckley in the FA Trophy. After that I sat up all night doing company stuff that should have been done that day and then got about 2 hours sleep before been woken up by the doorbell....grrrrr. Looking out I saw a Thames Valley Police Car!

The local police had, had a call that two suspicious Asians "not from around here" had been seen stopping off at a graveyard and acting very suspiciously. The car they were driving matched a car registered to us so we got the call.

I am not sure if it was when the Policeman in question (who I have done mountains of work with in the past in terms of Anti Social behaviour, distraction burglaries, Rural Crime ect ect...) found out that one of the suspects was me; the former councillor and Chairman of Governors of one of the most successful schools in the country, or if it was when my farther offered to show him the photographs of are  ancestry and the wonderful family tree he has done with historical sensors material attached!! the local policeman in question sort of lost interest and decided that we were not worth arresting under the Labour ineffective, racist, illiberal anti terrorism laws. I will say at this point that when it comes to breaking the law or indeed doing anything exciting in my life I rank quite low down on the list, in fact the rumour is that my MI5 file is used by officers to read to there kids as a bed time story - it fits the bill by being short and nothing of interest in there atoll.

Now that we have had a good laugh about how silly this all is, I think we need to point and laugh at the idiots that called the police. And how these people should be marked as unreliable witness. Firstly my farther is White Caucasian nothing (and at this point I remind you my Dad's a research fellow - he is quite thorough in this) from his family research suggest ANY Asian anssestoty atoll. He most certainly is "from round here" he lived in the Manor house where he was born to when he went away to university, his mother and farther lived there all there lives and indeed we fairly convinced that the family has lived "round here" since 1600s he is about as white as you could be, he doesn't even look Asian.

And then there is me - I am not Asian, I don't sound Asian, I don't look Asian and if we were some kind of terrorist's why would we go to Barrow on Humber? Surely a big city is where an attack is most likely. Whilst I find this whole episode of the Police calling round rather amusing, if Police are having to follow up these so called leads like this; doesn't it mean that they are not doing the real job of keeping us safe. The leads are coming from people who are not reliable and at the same time we have engaged in two wars since 11/9 "To hunt down and dismantle Bin Laden and his terrorist organisation" and we have been fighting in the wrong country - as Homer Simpson would say DOH... Bin Laden was in Pakistan living the high life, when we were in the desert in Iraq and searching for him in the mountains of Tora Bora  - in Afghanistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan ....oh well. One things is for sure we need to reassess where we are in terms of this war on terror and start fighting and investigating it, in the right place and at the right time. 

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Deadly assault weapons

One of the non political organisations I have been involved with since I was 7 is St John Ambulance. I remember one year coming back from a County Camp and I was shocked (Yes Liberal Me - shocked) about some of the things this teenage girls was reading in this magazine all about losing weight and other rubbish. Anyway this girl was reading the agony aunts page 'about ways to lose weight so blokes will like you'  I felt I had no choice but to challenge what she was reading. I did this - she told me that I should be a good agony aunt and for 10 years has peer pressured me into doing something about it - well today I did. I was messing about on the computer - killing time before I set off to go and watch the Luton and I saw this on Yahoo answers - clearly from right wing gun lobby - who asked:

Should everyone be able to conceal carry a weapon?

I could not help myself, you have to stand up to these people. This was my response:- 
The very nature of this question puzzles me. 

Surprisingly, I understand (even though I am from England) America culture on guns, and your ‘right to have them’ under your constitution. The interesting thing here is the word ‘conceal’ the reason for you being allowed to carry arms is I am sure you would agree to ‘protect yourself’. The argument is that if you have a gun then no one will try and shoot you; with that being the case why on earth do you want to hide the fact that you have one! Surly it would be far better for you to show everyone that you have it. Better still you should be forced to walk round with a sandwich board on that has “Armed and Dangerous” on it.

So should you be able to conceal the fact you have a weapon – I say no because the logic of you wanting to do so is so floored you clearly are not of a stable enough to have one.

Further more you have to look at the evidence when Bill Clinton band deadly assault weapons and got them off the street the number of homicides fell dramatically. When George W Bush gave people more rights to use deadly assault weapons the number of homicides went up including the huge number of deaths caused by a weapon owned by them.

The only argument there for people to have guns is that they are stupid and we as a society would be better off if they did carry them as they are likely to end up getting themselves killed and this would mean that all the people that think it is a good idea to carry a gun would die and we would be able to live in a world that is peaceful.

So there you are I am now an agony uncle - I have to admit it is fun

All the ozy's want for Christmas is Leaders

Oh dear.... that is all I can say. 

Back in 1996, when because of my fathers work (he's a Prof. who specialised in Environment change)   we moved to live in Canberra for a year. Living in Canberra you could not escape the politics but at that time there were two leaders, who had two agenda's and two different versions and visions of how to lead Australia into the 21st Centre. These were very different leaders with very different plans - the battle between Keating and Howard was fierce and exciting, but at least both of them were capable. Today as you have gone into the Summer Christmas recess one is left to sit and wonder what went so wrong. Where are the new Bob Hawkes, Dr J Hewson's, Paul Keating and Kevin Rudd's.

Before I continue - I need to preface this to any Australian reading - in the UK the Liberal Democrats the party of which I am an active member and a former councillor and council cabinet member, nearest relative would be the Australian Democrats. The UK Conservatives would be related to the Australian Liberal Party and the ALP would be linked to the UK's New Blair Labour Brand.

Lets start with the Prime Minister Julia Gillard. She was elected Deputy Prime Minister to one of the most sensible forward thinking, internationally respected men Australia has ever seen. Kevin Rudd was a serious man for serious time. "The Kevin 07 campaign" saw the Liberal National Coalition thrown out of office with the Prime Minister (John Howard) losing his own seat. There can be no doubt that Kevin Rudd was a great Labour Leader. Julia pushes Kevin into a u-turn on not to have a carbon tax - despite the fact he won an election on the issue and had already seen off the 2 opposition leader - thrown out by there own party on issues surrounding the environment, that policy, one would have thought that any sensible person would say ride the course - stick to it - its working, but not are Julia. She forced the Prime Minister Rudd into a position which was politically wrong and in principal wrong. Then because of that u-turn the government started to look like it had lost direction and who puts the knife in - that will be are Julia. Because of her the ALP were seen to have lost there way and then she said "Let's kick Kevin out and put me in". In a sign of grand statesmanship Kevin stood aside to prevent there being a split in the ALP and yep she who wielded the knife ended up seizing the crown (probably not the best quote to use as we are not sure where she stands on the issue of the republic - but as a pom I will stay out of that row!!!) - that was when things started to go from bad to worse for the ALP. She calls an unwanted and unneeded election - throws away the ALP majority and ends up doing a scrappy little deal with the independents and greens to keep Tony Abbott the resident nutter out of Lodge. She has changed her position again on the Carbon Tax again, I make that 3 times. She is possible the most annoying politician since world war 2 - "oh no she isn't" I hear you cry in this panto season - and you would be right - have you seen Tony Abbott - talk about nut case, I mean he is the worst political leader since Billy McMahon. He won his leadership on the basis that climate change is a myth. Yes a myth.

One of my earliest memories of when I went to Australia is that my younger brother and sister were held in detention on there first day at school because they didn't have the correct hat to go out and play in the sun - the Primary school they went to - Garran First school was very strict on the issue of sun protection 'No Hat No Play'. A clear sign that Australia back in the mid 1990's had acknowledged the whole in the ozone layer and the effect that had on skin cancer.  I have to say the ozy's were way ahead of the UK on this. But it seems that Tony Abbott opposes the idea of the hole in the ozone layer and climate change in general - is this man mad or just a wirdo. His response to the death of an Australian service man been shot with the comment "shit happens" was not the most frightening bit, the frightening bit was how he handle the journalist afterwards - the mouth opened but no words came out - can you imagine any former Political Leader not been able to speak - I mean this guy is the Leader of the official opposition with 71 seats under his coalition belt compared to the ALP who have 72 seats. There is a very good change this guy could be Prime Minister and I mean he can not articulate his policy's. When under pressure he can't speak - he makes Sarah Palin look slightly normal.

David little bro wins the wooden spoon - for being the most useless Labour leader ever

Unfortunately for Liberals, the coalition has made it very difficult for us to distinguish ourself from the Conservatives - there is no doubt about that. We are seen by some as a merged force with the Tories. What is amazing though is that at a time when the economy is so bad and Calamity Cameron is making such a hash of it, the Leader of the opposition should be doing an awful lot better than he is.
No Labour leader in modern times has had the luxury of only having one target (i.e. the Prime Minister). In pretty much every other parliament in modern times; the Leader of the opposison has had a third force to worry about as well. Not for dear old Ed - he has had one target and its not that he can't shoot straight - he just hasn't shot atall. He has let Cameron off the hook and the real question is why Cameron has not killed him off in a similar way to Tony Blair killing off Iain Duncan Smith, or Thatcher killing off Callahan and then Foot. I wonder if its a political tactic on Cameron side to keep Miliband where he is. As someone who has failed to challenge Cameron on anything atall, one would have thought that the Labour MPs would have lost confidence in him.
But then we remember that the majority Labour MPs actully did not vote for Milliband number 2 in the first place, but his big brother David. Now let me make it clear I don't think David Miliband would set the world on fire, but he would certainly be better than this damp sparkler. Ed just doesn't look the part, He looks uncomfortable out of his depth, He doesn't have any plan, He doesn't have a strategy and is tied down hook line and sinker to the trade union bosses. What the Labour Party needs is someone with a little bit of umph someone who a least could give the prime minister a bloddy nose. Don't get me wrong its not Ed Millibands fault but some people have what it takes and others don't - and Ed doesn't. He reminds me of one of those supply teachers who think there really hard and end up in tears by the end of the day because some 7 year old said something mean to them. As Australian former Labour Prime Minister Paul Keating said "It's like been flogged with warm lettuce." I am not sure about the flogging but Ed performance is so bad that I would challenge any one to come up with a worst Labour leader since Keir Hardie.

Prime Minister's Question time - the last of 2011

As my niece would say "Just shut up - right". A simple but clear message that needs to be said to speaker Bercow. I am actually really fed up with him constantly telling MPs that the public don't like all this shouting. Its just not true - the public actually think politics is boring and a few good one liners thrown across the dispatch box for half an hour is not such a bad thing. The public might say they don't like it, but if they didn't like it they would not watch it. BBC Parliament channel means that the public can choose which bits of parliament they want to watch - and despite being on the air 24 hours a day its only that half an hour that any one actually watches and that's when the duel of PMQs takes place.

Speaker bercow would argue its like when Clinton had his affair with Monica Lewinsky - poll after poll said the public did not want to know any more and was tired of it all. Yet any paper that put an extra bit of news about the affair in -well those newspaper sales went up. The same could be said of Princess Die before she died, the public constantly said they thought she was having a rough time with the tabloids writing about her and did not want any more put in the paper about Diana clearly these were the people who answered that poll shortly before they put on they coat and rushed down the road to the newsagent to pick up the tabloid with the biggest headline and photo of the princess in.

So Mr. Bercow you may represent a constituency next door to mine, but you don't have clue what ordinary people think. We like a little banter across the dispatch box for just half an hour a week.  Please do not drain out the last life of such a British institute. It is also worth a note that in Australia which seems to be the only country that seems to have managed not to be hit with the international financial crisis they have a far more colourful question time in there parliament and they do that EVERY day.

Welcome to my blog

Well I never thought I would be writing this - for the past 15 years or so I have been advising politicians from around the world. My advice has always been to get a website, get on facebook and myspace but stay well clear of the blogosphere. A strange place in a galaxy far far away. People reputations and even there jobs have been ended just over one mistaken blog.
So why have I decided to ignore my own advice and start to blog - well its not because I own my own company and have decided not to sack myself; its really simple - I have had enough of reading other blogs that I do not think accurately reflect my views and feeling of grass root Liberal to current events. So here it is. If you find the blog interesting then great - if not then I suggest that you don't read it and if you are a socialist or right wing nut job and you are offended by some of the views I put up then please let me know - this way I will know that the blog is doing far more good than I had possible imagined. The views that I put up will be mine - they may or may not reflect the views of the party and if that upsets some people then hey - get over it.